Dems could hit fail-safe button to keep Trump from taking office

by Joe Battenfeld

Desperate Democrats have a last-ditch fail-safe button in their back pocket in case Donald Trump wins the election — invoking the Constitution’s insurrection clause in Congress to block him from taking the Oval Office.

Any attempt to invoke the 14th Amendment would likely trigger an outcry from voters who backed Trump, plunging the country into political turmoil.

Leaders of the party in Congress of course are now denying they’ll use the emergency tactic — a sure sign they will do it if necessary.

“We’re not election deniers,” U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) said. “This is about the ballot box. So this is about democracy, and the voters get to decide.”

Democrats will never admit they are considering the fail-safe tactic to circumvent the will of the voters, but you can be sure they will not rule out any means to disqualify the former president.

“I think that it’s divisive to raise it at this point,” Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) said.

The key phrase there is “at this point.” Who knows how desperate Democrats will be if Trump wins the popular and Electoral College vote?

The Supreme Court ruling allowing Trump to stay on the ballot in Colorado and other states left it to Congress to enforce the insurrection clause.

It would take a two-thirds vote of the joint session of Congress to keep Trump out, which is why Democrats are so keen on winning as many House and Senate seats as possible this fall. With a strong majority of Congress in their pocket, Democrats may be emboldened to use the strategy to block Trump.

A lawyer from Colorado during arguments before the Supreme Court said if the court would not disqualify Trump then the question of his eligibility “could come back with a vengeance” — a reference to when Congress meets to certify the election.

Democrats could invoke their powers to refuse to certify Trump’s win based on the 14th Amendment, arguing that he led an insurrection on Jan. 6.

Section 3 of the Amendment bans current and former federal, state and military officials who have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the country from holding office again.

It was that clause that triggered partisan Democrats in Colorado, Maine and other states to keep Trump off the primary ballot — an effort that failed because of the Supreme Court.

But party leaders in Congress don’t want to admit that Trump could beat Joe Biden, so for now they are dismissing disqualifying him post-election with a vote.

“Any creating expectations that there is an alternative to beating Trump at the ballot box, I think, is a source of false hope and potentially detracts from our very necessary efforts to beat him there,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal told Roll Call.

But Democratic voters may feel differently if Trump wins, and look to Congress to hit the panic button and do whatever is necessary to keep the former president from serving another term.

Joe Battenfeld is a veteran Herald political columnist and multimedia reporter.